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Teen Fiction: Babkas

Roizy Baum

It’s not that I’ve developed a complex, it’s just that I’m afraid to take the risk of flopping again. I stick to simpler mess-free dishes

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

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The conversations are all about food. Food. Food. Food. 

“So, what are you making for the Melaveh Malkah?”

“I have this dangerous milchig miniature recipe.”

“Anyone have a good peanut butter-cheesecake recipe?”

“Nu, massive menu in the making?”

I presume you think this is an exchange taking place on park benches with snood-clad women. Actually, this very topic is being discussed, very animatedly, in my classroom, desks clustered, messy buns head to head.

And I think to myself, Help! Why does it always have to be kitchen related? If only my class would be into things more age appropriate.… Why was it destined for me to land in a class that adores cooking, baking, and talking about fancy dishes? If only they’d appreciate graceful dancing and artsy masterpieces.

Be so kind and hear me out. To put it mildly, I am not the expert chef. As meticulously as I follow recipes, as neat as I work, as expensive as the ingredients are, my cooking is doomed. Take for example the time I made triple chocolate mousse cups. I insisted on purchasing the best components only: 100 percent pure chocolate, the best brands, and the freshest ingredients, amassing a hefty bill. After melting the chocolate in a double boiler at the perfect temperature, I proceeded to whip up the whip. The bowl was squeaky clean, the whip perfectly defrosted, and the speed on the highest. Instead of stiffening, the milky substance sloshed round and round, forming ripples, with no plans of ever hardening, the vicious beating failing to frighten it. When I used to watch my mother create a cake snow, she had firm Swiss Alps forming within minutes. I worked on my patience with all my might but after ten minutes of useless beating, I surrendered. And that’s when I noticed the words Coffee Creamer glaring at me scornfully.

Or the time I confused baking powder and baking soda and couldn’t fathom why the heavenly cake recipe, which I followed to a T, tasted like dirt. Or when I generously offered to make soup that called for a head of garlic for a school luncheon. I simply dumped the garlic in whole. (I’d never used garlic in a recipe before. Plus, I have an aversion to the odor.) Only when my guests were toying with papery substances in their soup did I realize I’d erred once again. How was I to know garlic needs to be peeled first?

So, I really can’t put my finger on why my baking and cooking results are always a flop. It’s not that I’ve developed a complex, it’s just that I’m afraid to take the risk of flopping again. I stick to simpler mess-free dishes, if only to be part of the class cooking banter.

This year, with the competition fierce, I was on a quest to be part of the gourmet-chefs club. I was also going to create some delectable dairies. Mouthwatering dishes, that with the mere mention of their name, will get all the others to salivate. I wouldn’t settle for anything humble. It needed to be the ultimate crowd-pleaser. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 686)

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